tv City Colleges of Chicago Commencement Address CSPAN May 25, 2014 12:00pm-12:16pm EDT
they will look back on today and say that was one of the happiest days of my life. you will look back today and say, did i really think that was an ok way to wear my hair? today, many of you become the very first person in her family to earn a higher degree. i want to take a special moment to celebrate that achievement. to your families and to me, you are heroes. students who work while they take care of children, students who worked while they had jobs, students who were 12 they supported their families, you learn to write code, you healed the sick, do invested not just a
lot of money, but your time in your sweat, but it was worth it. with the skills you got here, you are not just going to have a better first job. you will go on to have more and better jobs. not only higher incomes, and higher expectation for a better life. education lifted my family, too. my great-grandparents immigrated here from eastern europe. they came here and my grandfather grew up in an apartment, one bedroom with his eight brothers and sisters. they shared a bathroom down the hall with eight other families of the same size. my great-grandparents did that for the promise of a better life and that promise was fulfilled when my grandfather and his
siblings became the first members of their family to graduate from college. my grandfather graduated from city college of new york. it put my father and me on a different path. many of you are setting your families on that path today and i know everyone here joins me in applauding you for that amazing achievement. congratulations. [applause] as i thought about what i wanted to do here today, i thought about the many graduation speeches i have heard.
the best ones had two qualities. they were relevant and they were brief. i will be both. [applause] i encourage all of you to post to facebook as much as possible, but i would appreciate if you would refrain from sheryl sandberg is boring posts until i'm done. i want to use my time to urge you to stay ambitious, to keep dreaming. some of you are leaving here and heading for more school and some of you are heading into the workforce. no matter what you are going to do, it is worth taking a minute to reflect on your time at city colleges. in addition to everything you have learned, i hope you learned
this -- dreams can come true. [applause] with hard work, with sacrifice and perseverance, you turn your dreams into reality and the proof of that is that every single one of you is sitting here in your gown. stay ambitious, do not lean back. lean in. as you extend your reach, it is within your grasp. i want you to see that nothing is impossible. your dreams are the possible dreams. how do you get there? every every path is unique. the first and most important, believe in yourself. the leaving you can do something is the very first step to doing it. i know firsthand that is how confidence comes more easily to some than others. when i was in high school, i was a senior and my brother was a sophomore. we had dates on a saturday. they canceled on us.
i spent the rest of the week and wondering what was wrong with me. my brother said, that girl missed a great thing, and went out and played basketball with his friends. my brother and i took a class in college. i was a senior, he was a sophomore. we took the same class and i went to all of the lectures and i read all the books. he went to two lectures and read one book. i wish i could spend a few minutes as him. it must feel so good. in reality, even he has moments where he doubts himself. we all do. ariana huffington talks about the obnoxious roommate in our
heads, the voice that tells us we cannot do something, that our ideas are not good that we are having a truly awful hair day. that obnoxious roommate holds us back. over my many years in school and in the workforce, i have seen so many people hold themselves back. i have seen them sit on the side of the room rather than at the table. i have seen them sit in the back. i have seen them lower their hands rather than keep them up and i have seen them lower their voices when they should speak up. i have seen over and over again how much self-belief drives outcome and that is why i force
myself to sit at the table, even when i am not sure i belong there, and that still happens to me. when i'm not sure anyone wants my opinion, i speak up anyway. believing in yourself is what has gotten you to this special day, so keep it up. do not let anybody put limits on you, do not put limits on yourself. know that you can and will go want to complete more school if you want to. know that you can and will get any job you want, even if you have to take other jobs on the way to getting their. know that you can provide for yourself and family. know that you can make the world a better place. plan and chase your dreams. i am urging you to be fearless and to dream big. sometimes big dreams can be overwhelming, it feels like you can't get from point a to point
z. you do not have to. you just have to get from point a to point b and then b to c and so on and so forth. breaking big dreams into small steps is the best way to get there. my mother and i went up the mountain and took a wrong turn and wound up on a really hard slope, people whizzing by us. i panicked. tears streaming down my face, i looked at my mother and said i cannot get down this mountain and she said do not look at the bottom. take 10 turns, 10 steps and then stop. and then take 10 more steps and then stop.
larger tasks can be overwhelming, but if you break it down, that fear goes away. as you can tell, i made it off the mountain. [applause] keep an eye on your goals, but look at the small steps to get there. your career and your life will have starts and stops, twists and turns. that is true in our economy. take full advantage of every opportunity you get to develop your skills, or each of us find our own way in our own time. you may not love every job you have, but you can learn from
every job you have. third thing, know that this world needs you to change it. last year, i wrote "lean in" and i wrote about the inequality between men and women. it turns out, shocker, that men still rule the world. if every child got the education he and she deserve. if -- [applause] if leaders of different genders and races and backgrounds and this made the decision at the tables were those decisions are made. my generation failed, we are far from my dream of 50-50 equality,
where women run half of our countries and companies and men run half our homes. we have an african-american president, but racism is far from gone. so we turn to you. we turn to you. you are the promise for a better and more equal world. [applause] there is no finer example of this than your chancellor. she graduated from city college, she sat in the chair you sit in today. four years ago, she and your board took on a reinvention of these colleges to give every student access to improve education. they have nearly doubled the graduation rate. she is proof that one person can make a difference. your life's course will not be determined by the things that are easy and things you know you can do. it will be determined by the things that are hard, the jobs
you want, and you work like crazy to get the skills to get there. the moments you feel alone and ask for help and create a bond with the person you asked because helping you does not just help you, it helps them. the times when you see something is wrong, but you wonder why no one else is speaking out. you convince everyone else. those are the moments that have real impact. do not let yourself off the hook by deciding that something is out of your reach. never know what you are capable of until you try. if you embrace challenges, no
matter how big, and keep moving forward, one day you will look up and be surprised at how far you have come. this is how your generation can become the lean in generation, the generation that knows no boundaries and changes the world. you stand here today proud and brave, one goal down, so many more to go. figure out where you want to go and aim high and then take the first step in that direction. believe in yourself. your families believe in you, your classmates believe in you, i believe in you, and we are all rooting for you. [applause] at facebook, we have red posters that inspire us to dream our dreams. one says fortune favors the bold. my favorite says, what would you do if you weren't afraid? today, as you celebrate years of hard work, ask yourself, what would you do if you weren't afraid? take a minute. what would you do if you weren't afraid? look to the future and then go
to it. congratulations, class of 2014. [applause] >> more commencement addresses in the moment, we are looking at memorial bridge, the bridge that spans arlington, virginia, and washington, d.c., as the rolling thunder freedom group calls its 27th annual ride. they began at the pentagon, then they wrote here across the memorial bridge, aiming to ways -- raise awareness for veterans issues and prisoners of war. this group was started in 1987 by to vietnam that. they named the group after a bombing campaign against the north vietnamese called operation rolling thunder. the story from the associated press is that president obama is in afghanistan right now, paying u.s. troops a surprise visit, flying there overnight.